Before you let a robot handle your prescription drugs, better let it train on candy first. FANUC’s M-1iA picking and sorting robot is one of the fastest robots on the planet. While it’s not the absolute champion of speed, it can do something that many of its competitors cannot: see in color. With FANUC’s “iRVision” visual analysis capabilities, the M-1iA can locate, pick up, and move identical objects based on the colors of their surfaces. FANUC has the high-speed sorter demonstrating its skills using sugary candies, but the ultimate idea is to have it process prescription pills or other small valuable items. Watch its super quick selection skills in the videos below. I can’t speak to its rapport with patients, but this robot is about a billion times faster than any pharmacist I’ve ever seen.
FANUC isn’t crazy to think that the M-1iA could find a home in the pharmaceutical industry. Robots are already sorting pills and filling prescriptions in hospitals in the real world. RFID tags and other means of tracking containers keep these robots from needing to sort mixed pills, but the FANUC robot’s ability to discern color could provide a valuable means of double checking that the right medicine goes into the right pill box. Maybe it could even detect if a drug had been damaged or spoiled. Whether or not the M-1iA will makes its way into pharmacies or industrial pharmaceutical factories in the near future isn’t clear, but I think we’ll see more sorting robots that showcase their visual skills as well as their speed. For now, the M-1iA represents a godsend to all those candy lovers who like to eat their Skittles, M&Ms, and jelly beans one color at a time. OCD, meet Robotics – you two were made for each other.